South Africa is a great country with a diverse culture and beautiful tourist attractions. If you plan to visit South Africa, taking your favorite drone with you will make the trip even more thrilling.
But can you fly a drone in South Africa?
The answer is yes! You can safely fly a drone in South Africa as long as you adhere to the regulations stipulated by the South African Civil Aviation Authority. The SACAA regulations foster the security of people and properties within the country.
Whether you intend to fly for recreation or commercial purposes in South Africa, read on to understand the SACAA drone regulations and the best places to fly your drone.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
General Rules for Flying a UAV in South Africa
To fly in South Africa with confidence, you need to start by familiarizing yourself with the rules and regulations governing the operations of UAVs. You’re in the right place!
While flying a drone in South Africa is legal, failing to comply with the drone rules and regulations in the country can land you in some hot water and end in frustration.
Before you fly your drone in South Africa, you should know the most important rules governing the operations of UAVs.
They include the following:
- If you are flying for recreational purposes, you do not have to apply for licenses or register your drone. Nonetheless, all other SACAA regulations will still apply to your drone.
- When flying for recreation purposes, you should never fly a drone exceeding 7 kg. In other words, recreational drone pilots are prohibited from carrying or transporting cargo.
- UAV users should ensure that their drones do not fly higher than 120m (400ft) above the ground
- Drones should not fly 10 kilometers (6 miles) or closer to an airport unless they have special permission from the SACAA.
- Never fly a UAV within 50 meters (164 feet) of people. If you have to fly close to private property, ensure that you have the owner’s permission.
- Always maintain a visual line of contact with your drone at all times.
- Only fly your drone during daylight.
- Flying a drone in and outside National Parks is prohibited.
Do I need a license to operate a drone in South Africa?
Whether or not you need a drone license to operate your UAV in South Africa depends on the drone’s purpose. If you are flying for recreational purposes, you will not need a permit to use your drone in South Africa.
However, you should adhere to other regulations governing the flying of drones in South Africa.
On the other hand, if you intend to fly your UAV for commercial purposes, such as taking a picture or filming a video you intend to sell, you will have to get a Remote Pilot License (RPL).
Additionally, you must register your drone with the SACAA and classify it as a remotely piloted Aircraft (RPA).
How to register a drone in South Africa
Registering your drone in South Africa is straightforward and should never worry you. You simply need to complete Form CA-47R1 and send it to SACAA. You can obtain this form from the Airworthiness Forms Page (link).
It is also important to note that there are several requirements that you will need to meet before applying for a drone license in South Africa.
The compulsory requirements include the following:
- An applicant should be above 18 years of age
- An applicant should have an English proficiency level of 4 or higher
- Applicants should have a current medical assessment
- Foreign theoretical training must be validated and approved
- Applicants must pass the radiotelephony examination
- Applicants must pass RPL Practical Assessment
- All applications should be submitted to SACAA for approval
What are the Restricted Zones in South Africa?
To ensure that you have an amazing drone flying experience in South Africa, you must remain within the constraints of South African law.
In addition to ensuring that your UAV meets all the requirements, you should also identify restricted areas in the country and avoid them if you do not have special permission to access them.
The SACAA prohibits drone operators from flying over restricted, controlled, or banned airspaces unless they have permission from the relevant authorities.
Restricted places in South Africa include:
- Crime scenes
- Power stations
- National parks
- And national key points
Further, you should not fly your drone 10km or closer to an airport.
What are the best places to fly a drone in South Africa?
Now that you are acquainted with the rules and regulations governing the flying of drones in South Africa, it is also wise to familiarize yourself with some of the best places to fly your drone.
Here are some of the best places to fly a drone in South Africa.
1. Cape Town
Cape Town is one of the most dazzling cities to visit in South Africa. While it is possible to get a glimpse of the beautiful scenery surrounding the city without a drone, your drone will make it even more mind-blowing.
Use your favorite powerful drone to capture the nature between the sea and the rugged range of mountains.
If hiking is your cup of tea, visiting Table Mountain for an extraordinary view of the entire city will be a brilliant idea. Further, the hike up Lion’s Head provides a spectacular view of the city.
2. The Garden Route
Another incredible place to fly your drone whenever you visit South Africa is the Garden Route.
The Garden Route runs for about 200 kilometers providing one of the most spectacular South Africa’s beautiful sceneries.
It passes through the rolling green hills, with amazing coastal towns, cliffs, and lagoons. You will definitely have a lot to explore with the help of your drone.
3. Stellenbosch, Western Cape
The Stellenbosch will be a perfect option if you are passionate about drone photography. With old oak trees, a mosaic of farms, and fantastic scenery, you will enjoy every minute of flying in this town.
History enthusiasts will find it exciting to spend their time in the Stellenbosch Village museum and learn about the History of South Africa.
Further, the surrounding area is excellent for hiking and taking spectacular drone footage. Nonetheless, when flying your drone around Stellenbosch, Western Cape, you must be careful to avoid damaging the drone.
4. The Drakensberg
Another spectacular place to fly a drone in South Africa is the Drakensberg.
The Drakensberg is particularly an excellent destination for nature buffs. With incredible mountain streams, vistas, caves, pools, and breathtaking scenery, you can capture the most amazing moments with your drone.
5. Robben Island, Western Cape
While Robben Island is a haunting reminder of the apartheid horror, it is one of the best places to fly your drone.
Apart from flying over the beautiful island, you get an opportunity to learn more about the history of South Africa, particularly the apartheid.
6. Boulders Penguin Colony
If you love penguins, consider visiting Simon’s Town and spending some minutes exploring with your drone. Taking pictures of the surrounding area will be gratifying.
Always remember to treat the wildlife with consideration and to ask when you are unsure whether it is legal to fly a drone in a given area.
While South Africa is an incredible country with many tourist destinations, there are several places where flying a drone is prohibited.
Some sites, such as National Parks, require visitors to obtain a special permit before flying in such areas. Therefore, it is important to enquire before flying your drone.
Additionally, you must ensure that you adhere to the drone rules stipulated by the SACAA for a smooth flying experience.